In 2014, Nastasia Wong was looking for a travel fantasy. Injured while working as a nurse, she was confined to bed rest, and boredom was setting in.
“I needed a project, and I figured, ‘I love travel, and I love photography, so let me see if there’s a female community online that I can live through,’” she says. “But all I found were fashion and beauty blogs. So I decided to create my own.”
Nastasia started by uploading her own photos from previous trips to Instagram, with the hashtag #dametraveler, and then began posting photos submitted by other women traveling solo. As stories and positive feedback started to flood in, she created the website Dame Traveler to profile women and their adventures.
Blown away by the response, she quit her job last spring to travel and blog full-time. Now this online community has morphed into an offline one.
“I’ve heard lots of stories of women connecting with each other to travel together or collaborate on projects,” she says. “When I travel and share my photos, people around the world reach out to say, ‘I’m nearby—let’s grab a coffee.’”
This March 6–10, that community is meeting, officially, in real life: Nastasia is running her first Instameet in Cuba in partnership with Conscious Cuba. Who’s invited? Only 137,000 of her best Instagram friends.